Workers' survey results mixed


January 26, 2017 | View PDF

A recent survey of Haines Borough employees found workers like their jobs and coworkers but are dissatisfied with overall compensation and critical of management.

The 54-question, online survey was filled out by 100 full-time and part-time employees, elected officials and volunteers. It included questions about job satisfaction, benefits, retirement, workplace flexibility and opportunities for professional growth.

Last fall, former borough manager Bill Seward contracted with Peg Blomme of Blomme Quality Consultants of Vienna, Va., who was paid $5,000 to write the survey and compile its results.

At a Jan. 3 borough assembly meeting, borough assessor Dean Olsen encouraged elected leaders to use the survey as an opportunity to hear from rank-and-file employees. “Consider the whole staff, who isn’t department heads, and who really, very seldom get a voice here.”

In an interview last week, Olsen said he hadn’t closely read survey results, but said he was disappointed that responses of volunteers were mixed in with ones from paid staff.

“That’s going to skew the survey. They’re going to tend to say that everything’s okay,” Olsen said.

(Volunteers were not asked about compensation. Thirty-one volunteers completed the survey, along with 47 full-time and part-time employees.)

Olsen also questioned why a survey was necessary to gauge worker attitudes.

“I was never convinced a survey was the answer in terms of getting a feel from the staff. The former manager felt there was a need for getting a feel for the morale of the staff. You could get that by meeting with people for 10 or 15 minutes,” Olsen said.

Survey responses were compared to a benchmark based on averages from surveys of employees of 20 other municipalities in 2016.

Employees were asked to respond to positively-phrased survey statements on a scale from 1 to 5, ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”

They gave generally low ratings to statements regarding compensation and benefits, including “I am satisfied with my overall compensation,” which received a 2.75 rating compared to a benchmark rating of 3.05, and “I am satisfied with my total benefits package,” a rating of 3.0, compared to a benchmark of 3.43. Employees gave a 2.53 ranking to the statement, “I am compensated fairly compared to my local market,” compared to a 2.63 benchmark.

The survey suggested employee morale was fairly high. Borough employees rated “I get excited about going to work” at 3.58, above the 3.48 benchmark and ranked at 4.32 the statement “I am determined to give my best effort at work each day,” with a benchmark at 4.43.

“Employees in my organization take the initiative to help other employees when the need arises,” rated 3.84 compared to a 3.74 benchmark. “I’m inspired to meet my goals at work” rated 3.72 (3.85 benchmark).

Employees ranked at 3.47 their support for the statement: “I’m proud to tell others I work for the Haines Borough.” As that question was exclusive to the survey here, no benchmark was available.

Some of the survey’s lowest scores concerned management. “Communication between senior leaders and employees is good in in my organization” ranked 2.92 compared to a 3.15 benchmark. “The quality of Haines Borough communications between managers, staff and departments keeps me informed of policies and procedures affecting my work” was rated at 2.96. (No benchmark available.)

“Management within my organization recognizes strong job performance” rating 3.08, lower than the benchmark at 3.28. Another management question showed one of the broadest gaps between Haines and the benchmark ranking. “My supervisor and I have a good working relationship” was rated 3.74 by local employees compared to the benchmark of 4.14.

Assembly member Heather Lende said at Tuesday’s meeting the survey reflected “disparaging feelings between the hierarchy and lower-wage employees.” She wondered if an employee handbook would be helpful for setting guidelines and expectations.

Interim borough manager Brad Ryan was to present survey results at a meeting late Wednesday.


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